Of course, the lone scientist would be backed by billions from polluters who object to clean water and air.
Do polluters object to clean water and air? I'm sorry, my father's experience on the Illinois Pollution Control Board says otherwise. The object of the board was specific: clean up Lake Michigan. The original estimates were that all efforts to clean up the lake would take 33 years. (Indiana had a similar project.)
During the first five years, the Board concentrated on identifying and quantifying the worst polluters on the Chicago lake shore. In many instances, the companies who were cited were able to put corrective action in place quickly. Part of the reason they didn't do it on their own dime is that their competition a couple of miles up the coastline didn't do it, which put the polluting company at a competitive disadvantage. So the company (1) put in control measures, and (2) snitched on their polluting competition.
In some instances, the management of the company was not aware just how bad they were, and cleaned up. That may sound stupid to you, but those companies just didn't realize the effect their outflow was having, until it was pointed out to them. In many cases, these were companies built in the 40s and 50s, when the amount of total pollution was orders of magnitude lower, and the ecosystem could handle it. This included smokestack pollution, as well as lake pollution.
The result? Significantly measurable improvement in less than five years, not the 33 years originally estimated. The eco-system started to recover once the worst of the ongoing industrial pollution was removed. A success story.
Where environmentalists and industry get cross-wise is the idea of the former that clean water and air should be obtains "at all costs" and "everything today". Industy wants that last phrases to be "at all reasonable costs" and "scheduled to match the capital spending timing."
The EPA of today, according to the reports I see in the media, is more of the first class of people instead of the second. EPA thinks that the environment is so fragile that everything possible -- and then some -- has to be done right now. Lake Michigan proves that our environment may be more robust than the EPA gives it credit for.